One of the biggest misnomers thar our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. run into at mediation between pro se parties involves exactly what is calculated into child support.
It is not uncommon for the non-custodial parent to ask whether he or she would get credit for buying items for their child such as diapers, formula, clothes etc. Although Florida no longer uses the terminology of custodial and non-custodial parent, those phrases are much simpler for pro se parties to understand.
Florida used to be what was called a “custody state”, but that stopped several years ago when the Legislature changed Florida Statute § 61.13 to require a Florida Family Judge is required to establish a “Parenting Plan” in every case that sets forth a time-sharing schedule between the parties and their minor children.
Section 61.13 sets forth the twenty different factors which the court is required to consider in determining the best interest of the child when it initially establishes a parenting plan as well as when the court decides whether or not to modify a parenting plan that is in place. Only after a parenting plan is determined is it possible to calculate child support which is determined pursuant to Florida Statute § 61.30. The reason for this is because one of the major components of a child support calculation is the number the of overnights that the minor children spend with each parent.
One problem that our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have seen as a result of the changes to § 61.30 is that in some cases the parties fight about “overnights” solely for the purpose of increasing or decreasing child support.
Another issue at mediation that can arise is parties tell our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators about child support issues that they have heard from family members and acquaintances – most of which are contrary to Florida child support statutes and law.
In addition to the percentage of overnights, our mediators need to be able to take a look at each parties’ compliance with Mandatory Disclosure as required by Florida Family Court Rules of Procedure 12.285 which also includes a Florida Law Financial Affidavit.
In Florida, we follow what is commonly called the “Income Shares Model” in order to determine child support. This method attempts to estimate how much money the parents would spend on their child or children if they resided together. Under Florida’s child support guidelines, a person’s child support obligation is almost always calculated by a computer program and this program shows no favoritism to either party. Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. use a program where we input the income of both parties, childcare costs, health insurance costs and percentage of overnights. The program then determines the monthly child support obligation.
There are a lot of misnomers about child support, but calculating it is not that difficult as long as our mediators have the correct information to input.